Over the last decade, social media marketing has become an indispensable tool in the arsenal of brands and businesses of all kinds, with opportunities to build relationships, engage with customers, and increase sales like never before – and the stats back it up. A January 2014 survey by PewInternet revealed that 74% of adults in North America used social networking sites, including 82% of 30–49-year-olds and 89% of 18–29-year-olds.
In addition, research from social media analysts Digitals predicts that the growth of social commerce could make it a business worth $30 billion before the end of 2017. And in a Social Media Examiner poll conducted in 2015, 91% of respondents said that social media marketing – worked on for at least 6 hours per week – increased exposure for their business.
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Before You Begin: Key Considerations for All Social Media Marketing
Peer pressure, success stories in the media and general hype tell today’s business owners that having a presence on social media is essential. That’s not to say a business couldn’t do well without utilizing social networking, but they’d certainly be missing out on a myriad of opportunities to build and grow.
However, one of the biggest mistakes that a brand can make is to leap into social media marketing with no real clue of what they are going to do with it; only the vague hope it will somehow make their fortune.
While there is a possibility that you get really lucky, in most cases this kind of unplanned approach will lead to unrealistic goal-setting, poor results, a huge waste of time, and ultimately a defeatist attitude that puts you off the idea of social media marketing completely. To ensure that this doesn’t happen to you – and to give you the best chance of success – I urge you to digest the key considerations for social media marketing detailed below. By the end of this chapter, you will have a firm understanding of what kind of approach works for business on social media, and how to take your efforts in a well-planned, logical direction.
Decide which social networks will work best for you
Unless you’re a big company with the resources to plow full speed ahead into every potentially viable social platform, chances are you’re better to focus on one or two “core” social networks first. It’s better to excel on a couple of social networks than be mediocre on five or six, and while social media is (mostly) free, your time is valuable. Indeed, depending on the type of business you run, not every social media site is going to suit your marketing, your audience, or what you are trying to achieve.
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To help you decide where to begin, identify which social networks your target audience already “hangs out” or use customer personas and research of social network demographics to judge where you will best be received. Joining Facebook and Twitter is often a given for brands simply due to their sheer size and influence, but more “niche” communities with their own unique attributes – still with hundreds of millions of users, mind you – like Pinterest, Instagram, or LinkedIn, might be where you find can make an impact more successfully.
Define and assess your goals
Before you start posting content to social media, it is useful to define the guiding themes and overall goals of your strategy, as these will help you shape the way you approach what may well become the linchpin in your marketing machine. I’m a fan of the SMART technique for creating actionable social media goals. Here’s a breakdown, hopefully they’ll help you too:
Perform an audit to help shape your content strategy
Carrying out an audit is one of the best ways to get an idea of the kind of social media content strategy that will resonate with your audience, and a great way to decide upon what you want to post to your audience. Take time to identify your audience’s needs, desires, and interests on social media – ask yourself what problems you can help them overcome, what questions you can answer, what type of content they prefer (e.g., text, photo, graphics, video), and when they are most likely to be around to see it.
Tools like SEM Rush and True Social Metrics are two popular paid options if you want to dig right down into the details, but you needn’t spend a penny to get a good, general idea… especially if you use your competition to help you out! First, identify your competitors (you’ll probably know them already, but a simple web search will tell you), then visit their websites and social media profiles for a nose around. Make notes on how often your rivals publish blogs and status updates on social media, and which content seems to perform best for them based on the number of likes, comments, and shares.
You can gain further insight by identifying how much of this content appears to be original versus shared from other sources, and what the topics and tone of voice used are like. Use the information you gather to mirror successful types of content in your own social media strategy, but also to identify gaps and opportunities where you can do better.
Plan ahead with a social media content calendar
One of the stiffest tests facing brands on social media is to consistently publish high-quality content for their fans. A company’s social media presence that appears abandoned is the digital equivalent of turning your lights off. Because you’re not updating online, people will assume that you’re going out of business, even if the opposite is true.
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Since it’s this consistency that can really help to boost levels of engagement (by enabling fans to anticipate your next post) and foster a stronger relationship with your audience (who will keep coming back for more), one of the best ways to help get it right is by compiling a social media content calendar. An editorial calendar will allow you to plan your activity for weeks – or even months – in advance. This foresight will allow you to build seasonal themes into your updates, and prevent you from posting sub-par stuff just because you need to publish something
One Last Thing…
If you found this book helpful and believe it is worth sharing, please would you take a few seconds to let your friends know about it? If it turns out to make a difference in their lives, they’ll be forever grateful to you, as will I.
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